California’s Free Fishing Day Is Saturday

Photo by CDFW
Photo by CDFW

In all the years I spent as a sportswriter, one undisputed lasting tip I always took with me from my longtime colleagues and friends is the business was this: If it’s free, then give me three. 

There’s no getting around it, sports reporters are freeloaders (emphasis on free). Most of us weren’t paid very well, worked just about every weekend or parts of every weekend, and for many of us, newspapers’ decline in this Internet-driven world meant a lot of bitter layoffs that left talented scribes out of work.

So in the spirit of getting something for free, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife hopes to introduce new anglers into the fold when it hosts the first of two annual “Free Fishing Days” on Saturday (the second is scheduled for Sept. 3). Of course, free simply means no general fishing license is required for anglers to wet a line on Saturday. Here’s the CDFW release with more details about making sure all over regulations are honored:

Have you ever felt the excitement of catching a fish? This summer, angling novices can experience the thrill for free. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) invites all Californians to fish on July 2 and Sept. 3 – no fishing license required. If you would like to fish the rest of the year, you can purchase a license onlinethrough CDFW’s website.

“Free Fishing Day is always great opportunity to try an all-American pastime that is one of my favorites,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham. “If you’re already an experienced angler, I encourage you to invite a friend, relative or neighbor who’s never tried it or who wants more experience.”

A basic annual resident sport fishing license in California currently costs $47.01, but CDFW offers two Free Fishing Days each year – usually around the Fourth of July and Labor Day weekend – when it’s legal to fish without one. This year, the first of the two Free Fishing Days falls on the Saturday of Independence Day weekend.

All fishing regulations, such as bag and size limits, gear restrictions, report card requirements, fishing hours and stream closures remain in effect. Every angler must have an appropriate report card if they are fishing for steelhead or sturgeon anywhere in the state, or salmon in the Smith and Klamath-Trinity river systems.

Anglers can review the sport fishing regulations online ( or use CDFW’s mobile web site to view limits and regulations specific to a body of water (